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How does the law define wire fraud?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2023 | blog, Criminal Defense

White-collar fraud crimes come with relatively hefty penalties. This includes wire fraud, an increasingly common and popular form of crime among fraudsters.

But what exactly is wire fraud?

The goal of wire fraud

The Department of Justice discusses wire fraud as a white-collar crime. Wire fraud relates to mail fraud in that both share the same goal: to separate a person from their assets or their access to honest services or goods.

It is the method of fraud that differs between the two. Wire fraud focuses on fraud committed using electronic means. This can include pager messages, fax messages, texts, emails, voicemails, phone calls, chat room messages and more.

How wire fraud works

For example, a popular wire fraud scam involves an email in which the supposed prince of a foreign nation contacts someone in order to get some emergency money with the promise of repaying that individual greatly in the future. Of course, this is a lie, and the fraudster takes the given money and runs.

Potential penalties

Wire fraud actually comes with some hefty penalties, though, which not everyone may know about. In most cases, a person could face up to 20 years in prison with a maximum fine of $500,000, which is still enormously high for many.

If the fraudster attempted to target a financial institution like a bank or used a natural disaster as a cover for their fraudulent activity, the penalties are even worse. The individual could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million dollars, making the crime certainly not worth the cost.